Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

Heineman Consults Former Governors Who Served In Senate

As he contemplates a bid for Senate, the GOP’s top recruit — Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman — is engaging some former governors who made the same transition.

The shift from a state’s head honcho to being one of 100 is unique. The slow-moving gears and partisanship of the Senate can be frustrating for a former chief executive.

Still, they constitute about one-tenth of the Senate in the 113th Congress. That includes Nebraska Republican Mike Johanns, whose retirement next year after one term in the Senate has led to the heavy recruitment of Heineman.

“The Governor has had several positive and productive conversations with former Governors who went on to be U.S. Senators,” Heineman spokeswoman Jen Rae Hein told CQ Roll Call. “The Governor appreciates these conversations, and has found them to be insightful and valuable as he continues to contemplate his decision. Every indication is that the Governor will make his decision within the next month’s time frame.”

Heineman told The Associated Press recently that he understands why the leaders of the National Republican Senatorial Committee would want a governor to run, but he looks at the race differently.

“Can I make a difference? Is it the kind of career I want to pursue? That’s what I’m looking at,” he told the AP.

There are now 11 former governors serving in the Senate, with Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Angus King, I-Maine, the latest to join the club. Ten served in the previous Congress, including two from Nebraska — Democrat Ben Nelson, who retired in 2012, and Johanns.

Given the state’s Republican bent, the race for the open seat is unlikely to be competitive. Several other Republicans have been mentioned as possible candidates should Heineman, who declined to run for Senate in 2012 but is term-limited in 2014, pass on the race. That includes the state’s three congressmen and state Attorney General Jon Bruning, who lost in the 2012 Senate GOP primary.

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